Friday, November 28, 2008

Making Less More!

It’s that time of year when for many, the baking and cooking bug hits. For some it could become a guilt trip, for others a several day marathon, for yet others a drudgery that has to be maintained because it is TRADITION. But for many it is fun and it is tradition. But for all the costs continue to rise.

So two important points today: first the rule of thumb for baking any cookies is that you have to make at least a three batch-batch, one to eat as dough and two to bake. (I think it is illegal in some places to only make a single batch of chocolate chip cookies!)

And second, there are some ways to stretch the budget and the groceries, by planning to make less more.

Let’s talk about a few ideas to make less more. Some of these, once again, might seem to be just common sense. And maybe they are. But common sense is not common sense unless we remember to apply it.

With the economy affecting us in so many ways, it becomes our responsibility to remember and do everything possible to stretch those pennies. It has gotten to the point, in some instances, where people have come to regard pennies as almost worthless. Well it still takes one hundred pennies to make a dollar and unless you begin with one, you won’t make it to the dollar. So perhaps today’s concepts can be the penny principle applied to common sense. (Common Cents? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

As you think about baking or cooking it usually is the required ingredients that make a recipe unique where the costs begin to drastically rise. It almost always will be things such as nuts, or candied fruits, or chocolate, or coconut, let alone sweetened condensed milk or special flavoring.

In order to make less more you need to add some action words such as chop, cut, shred, grate, mince, and crumble. Also get in mind such words as stretch, extend, dilute, or water-down.

The principle idea being that you want to still have the flavor, taste or crunch, just perhaps not as concentrated. For example one-half cup of walnuts halves can be chopped or minced to equate almost the volume of one cup without losing the flavor or uniqueness of the taste. Candied fruit, which is very expensive, can be chopped and sliced to increase the volume, but still give the flavor and color. Cheese can be grated or melted or thinned to have the creaminess and flavor, but not use the volume. (This is the principle that a brand name “cheese spread” has used for years and guaranteed the flavor. This is also the principle behind “whipped butter and whipped margarine” – thin it down, spread it out and make less more!) Yes, even chocolate chips can be halved or grated if necessary to make them stretch.

Get out that dry milk and those dehydrated eggs and learn how to stretch your “regular” milk and eggs. Dry milk is still much more economical than regular milk. If the only place you used it was in cooking, you would stretch your budget – and your groceries.

Begin using your wheat, other grains and oats as fillers to extend ground meat, skillet dishes and soups and stews. And surprise, you will extend and expand nutrition at the same time. By using dehydrated eggs, dry milk and oats in your meat loaves and patties you can once again apply the principle of making more of less work.

Of course the principle behind stir-fry and skillet dishes is combining a “whole bunch of less” and making a complete meal out of it-thus becoming more.

It really is fun, you know, to be able to win these battles, make it all work and come up with more strategies and sneaky ways to keep winning!

Return to the Neighborhood